sflowersjThe incessant beeping of the EKG machine kept him from staring consistently at her face, soft and vulnerable. So with one quick sweep of the screen, he brought his gaze back to stare at her. Long lashes splayed gently on her high cheekbones and his gaze silently traveled down her pert nose and full, parted lips.

Lowering himself to the chair beside her bed, Neve eyed her hands, silently admiring her long and slender fingers, the nails short and capable-looking. His eyes moved back to her face and he tilted his head, studying her curiously. Where did she come from? Who was she?

His heart stirred at the sound of her heartbeats, steady and strong. Thank goodness Old Man Jonas had been there to find her, lying face down on a bed of sand and rocks. He swallowed hard, tracing her strong profile and he felt his fingers itch to touch her smooth, mocha skin.

Then his gaze fell on the small mound of her abdomen and steeled his thoughts. Whoever this woman was, she was a long way from home.

Now standing outside the Sunrise Tours building, Neve’s vision blurred as tears gathered at his eyelids. He could still remember the day he’d walked into her hospital room more than eight years ago and his eyes collided with her chocolate-brown gaze. Her confused expression, her taut lips imprisoning him at the door.

It’d taken a couple of days before she opened that beautifully-shaped mouth to address him, thanking him for saving her. With one hand on her swollen belly, she gazed up at him with shimmering eyes asking him to tell her where she was, who she was. He had no answer for her and felt even more helpless than he’d ever felt. Leaving the hospital made him feel guilty and he found himself thinking about her after he’d gone home for the day. Days passed and he couldn’t help himself but to look for her, watch after her, smiling at her speedy recovery. She was inquisitive yet patient, lovely in form and intriguing. Neve had never met anyone like her.

Three months passed and her son, Tomas, was born. Neve was captivated and wouldn’t look back. In all of his thirty-three years, this was the first time he’d ever wanted to take responsibility of anyone but himself, just like his father wished for him long ago.

He waited for years, standing by their side, supporting them overtly and sometimes quietly, waiting for the day Ameya would gaze at him with love in those chocolate eyes. Patience had never been a strong suit of his, his reckless youth a testament but ever since Ameya and Tomas had stumbled into his life, Neve did not mind waiting for Ameya to finally run into his arms and be content with him as he was with them. He wanted them to be his family, to love him and his father for as long as they lived. Not once had he thought Ameya belonged anywhere else but here with him.

His eyes tingled as the tears gathered, threatening to slide down his face. Then a hand touched his shoulder and Neve jumped, gasping back the impending sobs as his gaze fell on Ameya’s concerned face. He ducked his head and swiftly wiped the tears from his eyes.

“Neve?” her gentle voice caressed and slapped him at the same time. “What’s the matter?”

He shook his head and once he’d swallowed back the tears, Neve slowly lifted his head to peek at her. “You’re here?”

Ameya raised a brow at him, visibly disturbed. “Yeah,” she replied, glancing over his shoulder at the front door. “What’s the matter?” she repeated, dragging her gaze back to his face.

Her chocolate eyes searched his face for answers and Neve felt his heart twist and squeeze painfully, he had to look away. “Nothing…” He lifted a hand to rub his eyes. “I’m just tired.”

Ameya smirked at his lame excuse and shook her head. “Then go home…” She peered over his shoulder again, her brow furrowed. “Huh, do we have visitors?” she muttered to herself, ready to step around him.

“Uh Ameya,” Neve said, realizing that she might hear the conversation he hoped she wouldn’t. Quickly, he grabbed her by the shoulders and tugged her away from the door, toward the main street.

Stunned by his swift move, Ameya gaped up at him once they stepped a few feet from the building. “Really, Neville, what is the matter with you?” She pushed at his chest until he released her shoulders and straightened her paisley button-down shirt.

Neve swallowed hard, forcing himself to keep his eyes on her lest she became too suspicious. “Uh, I need to speak with you.” He could hear his own racing heart echoing loudly in his ears. His palms were damp and tingling, his tongue trembling.

Ameya narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously. “What is it?”

“I…” Neve started to say, even though he knew he couldn’t ask her what his heart desired to. Especially not after what he’d just heard. His heart slammed hard against his ribs, leaving him breathless. Neve frowned darkly, frustrated with himself.

“Neville,” Ameya prodded in rising aggravation. She shifted her weight onto one leg, placing her hands on her hips. “Speak up, will you?”

“I…” his eyes lifted from her frowning face and over her head. The words hung from his throat as he stared at the four men standing a few feet away from him, staring back at him. The hurt look on his father’s face was more than enough for him. Neve swallowed his words promptly. “I-I’ll tell you later.” With a forced smile, he patted her arm and stepped away from her.

Flabbergasted, Ameya watched with parted lips as Neve spun on his heels and strode away quickly without another word. She scoffed as he crossed the street and practically ran to his car. “What nonsense was that?” she muttered to herself, watching his car speed past her.

Behind her, four men stared after the dark jeep that zoomed past them. Then Warren and Francis exchanged worried glances while Jonathan and Marcus turned their attention to Ameya’s back. With the truth out in the open, what would happen now?

At the end of the street, Neve glanced at the rear-view mirror and watched with his heart in his throat as Ameya turned to face the four men with a welcoming, warm smile on her face. Squeezing the steering wheel tightly, Neve stepped down on the gas and swiftly turned the corner.

<<Part 23 || Part 25>>